Natural Guardian and Guardian of the Estate

If a guardian was appointed for a minor relative who had a mother still living, that guardian usually oversaw the estate of the child (usually their “inheritance” from a deceased relative) and did not necessarily have physical custody of the child. When women had fewer legal rights, it was not uncommon for a guardian to be appointed for children whose father had died and whose mother still survived. The guardian oversaw the inheritance and generally did not “take in” the children and raise them.

A mother could be appointed guardian for her own children, but in many cases it was a male relative.